For this week's #NorthernRides, I chose my favorite Sunday morning ride in the west of Stockholm. Totaling at around 90 km, the route is long enough to allow me to settle into a steady rhythm and a couple of interesting coffee shops along the way invite for a short (or extended) fika break.
I usually start this ride on the southern edge of Stockholm's city center and continue along Söder Mälarstrand, which leads along the northern coast of Södermalm. From here, you have an unobstructed and postcard-worthy view of the islands of Kungsholmen and Gamla Stan, including Stockholm City Hall.
I then continue over Västerbron bridge, a large arch bridge that spans high over Riddarfjärden (the bay on the western side of the Old Town) and marks the western edge of Stockholm's city center. With a total length of well over 600 m and a vertical clearance of about 25 m the bridge itself is quite stunning, and so is the view once you reach its top.
After a short descent to the island of Kungsholmen you reach Tranebergsbron, another arch bridge that offers an equally stunning view and probably constitutes the hardest climb of the day (you hardly ever manage to exceed a total elevation gain of 1 % when cycling around Stockholm).
After a couple more kilometers of riding through Bromma, a mainly residential neighborhood, you soon reach Drottningsholm Palace—the private residence of the royal family—, which is beautifully located on the outskirts of Lake Mälaren. Although the palace is usually quite busy with tourists, it's worth having a short stop here, especially because this is the last opportunity to stock up on energy bars before leaving Stockholm.
On passing Drottningholm Palace the landscape changes significantly. The broad bicycle lane on the island of Lovön runs next to green and golden fields, which will become a familiar sight for the next 20 kilometers or so. At that point, I usually start to settle into a more steady rhythm and I try to take in all the natural beauty that Sweden offers.
At points, however, following my own rhythm can be a bit tricky since one encounters quite a few other road cyclists on the way. Given that all cyclists will take the same route for 20 km or so it follows that small differences in speed can lead to awkwardly slow overtaking maneuvers. And there's nowhere to run unless you're willing to step out of your rhythm.
Passing over to the sparsely populated island of Färingsö, the bicycle path deviates further from the main road and ends suddenly after another 5 km. At this point, it's safe to continue your trip on the main road; however, there's a somewhat longer and more scenic route that allows you to avoid most traffic and increases your chances to encounter wild animals.
Having reached Svartsjö Castle (which oversees its name-giving lake) it's time to make up your mind about your fika destination. Basically, there are two options, both of which might only be open during the weekend. Firstly, there's Café Giro—a pink caravan-turned-coffee-shop named after the Italian Grand Tour—that offers basic coffee options together with comfortable garden chairs. It's family-owned, very relaxed and the obvious choice for any road cyclist looking for a coffee stop. Food choices include a selection of sweets and energy bars, but if you find yourself rather hungry you might prefer to follow the road for another 2 km until you reach Äppelfabrikens Musteri. Here, you have a larger offering of main courses and homemade cakes, and you will meet many other cyclists; unfortunately, the staff can't seem to make up their minds about vegan food options which can be a bit frustrating at times.
After a short fika brake, I often go for a loop around the northern part of Färingsö before I head back home, usually following the same route all the way to Stockholm. If you're looking for a slightly different route back, there's an option to take a ferry from the southern tip of Ekerö to set over to the mainland; however, this route is not quite as scenic as the one that passes Drottningholm Palace.
What's your favorite Sunday morning ride? Let us know by leaving a comment below or share your route by joining the NOPE! cycles cycling club on Strava.